Ex-Olympic champion Li Xuerui bids adieu to int’l badminton

Former Olympic champion Li Xuerui has announced her retirement from international badminton. In an article published on its official website on Thursday, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said that Li, who finished with 14 Superseries titles, will be remembered as an attacking player with a never-say-die spirit.

The 28-year-old won the gold medal in London Olympics in 2012 where she defeated Wang Yihan in the final in three games.

Li, who was adjudged the BWF Female Player of the Year in 2013, was among the most dominant players of her time before an injury at the Rio Olympics disrupted her career.

Her first major success was at the Asia Championships in 2010, when as a 19-year-old she beat Saina Nehwal and compatriot Liu Xin on way to the title.

Her first Superseries title was won at the All England of 2012, when she beat compatriot Wang Yihan in the final.

Following a stellar season in 2012, Li was favourite to win her first world title when she reached the final of the World Championships the following year, on home soil in Guangzhou. However, contrary to most expectations, Li was surprised in the final by a young Ratchanok Intanon.

Li was one of the top contenders at Rio 2016, but collapsed to the floor during her semifinal against Carolina Marin and went on to lose 21-16, 21-16.

The injury, diagnosed as an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) rupture, kept her out of the sport for over a year.

She made a moderately successful return to badminton, winning her first comeback event – the Lingshui China Masters – in April 2018. She proceeded to complete a hat-trick of titles, winning the US Open and the Canada Open, but struggled to reclaim the form she had enjoyed at top-tier events.

Her last appearance came at the Korea Open in September 2019, when she retired from her first round match against Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi.

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